KUALA LUMPUR: Almost 50 years have come and gone since the May 13, 1969 tragedy struck Malaysia, resulting in the death of hundreds of innocent lives.
It is about time Malaysians be given the truth as to what actually transpired in the tragic incident, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) adviser Dr Kua Kia Soong said at a forum entitled, “Fact and Fiction: May 13 revisited” today.
The author of “May 13: Declassified documents on the Malaysian riots of 1969” and “445 days under Operation Lalang”, among others, told the forum that Malaysia should follow in the footsteps of the British government by placing a time limit on documents classified as official secrets.
That was how he obtained truth on what happened on May 13.
“I got it from the public records office in London as the (British’s) 30-year secrecy rule was over. That is what the Malaysian government should do, declassify, especially special branch documents (on the May 13 incident).
“Unfortunately we don’t have that rule which means the government can keep their secrets forever.”
According to Kua, his extensive research led him to discover that May 13 was orchestrated, and not a spontaneous eruption of violence as the official narrative states.
“The bigger trauma was hearing how such an incident could destroy the multiethnic society in this country. The fact is that everything which took place before May 13 seemed to have been destroyed, especially with the policies implemented afterwards.
“The New Economic Policy (NEP), the quota system. It’s too deliberate, and the policies have divided Malaysian society forever.
“It is an Umno agenda as the Bumiputera policies then became sort of a populist ideology. Everything is for the Bumiputera, and if you are not (a Bumiputera) then you won’t get it.”
He reiterated that the May 13 incident had paved the way for a deliberate populist policy aimed at securing the votes of Bumiputeras, explaining how Umno has continued to remain in power all these years.
Kua also said the “orchestrated” tragedy was a form of coup de tat against the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, carried out by a “state capitalist class” who were emerging during the former prime minister’s time although the Tunku, as he was popularly called, was not representative of this group.
“After May 13, with NEP, the state capitalist class gained more and more power economically and politically. They became a new Umno which represented interests of the state capitalist class.”
He warned of similar incidents reoccurring, saying it had already happened over the years, including the 2001 incident of Kampung Medan where a four-day long racial clash led to six deaths and more than 40 people being hospitalised, according to official figures.
It is often compared to the racial riots of May 13, which sparked off after an opposition party’s election victory parade.
The May 13 riot, said Kua, was also frequently used as a bogeyman during election time by the ruling coalition to urge the public to reject the opposition by claiming that doing otherwise could lead to another occurrence of a bloody riot.